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Abdou - Capturing Cairo

You might have noticed a flurry of your friends posting caricatures of themselves all over social media. Chances are they were drawn by Abdel Rahman Shawky, AKA Abdou the Caricaturist. We talk to the budding artist and get our own cartoon drawn...

If you’ve been out and about Cairo in the last couple of months you may have noticed a young guy with Woody Allen eyeglasses rapidly scratch away at a sketch book. That guy is Abdel Rahman Shawky, AKA Abdou the Caricaturist, and his keen eye for picking out people’s specific facial features, and talent with pencil in hand has had party, festival and event organisers bringing him in to add some life to the proceedings. We have a chat with the budding caricature artist to find out more, as well as get out very own CairoScene team illustration!

When did you first get into drawing and art?

I started drawing since I was 10 years old, then I fell in love with the portrait art. I started to find celebrities photos and tried to draw them, and this is how I found out about my talent. I didn't learn any arts or how to draw but I figured out that I can draw faces! This was the beginning of drawing portraits for me.

What is it about portrait illustration and characterising do you love?

What I love most about portraits is drawing faces! Especially since there are some very photogenic faces that I felt I wanted to draw... Whenever I find I like a face I start drawing it. I got into caricatures as it’s more fun and gives the portrait a feeling of being alive. I love live caricatures the most and I started to teach myself how to do it and started to make it real and perform for people.

Where have you drawn people so far?

I drew people in many places. I started drawing live caricatures at Virgin Megastore; it was really amazing to spread the smiling faces through the crowd. Then I started to draw at live events and parties, and this actually gave me the strength to move on and make progress with my art.

Why did you decide to illustrations at parties?

Drawing in parties refers to a passion! I love electronic music and everything about it, especially dance music like Trance and Deep House. The thing I love most about dance music is that it brings people together and creates a fantastic atmosphere. Trance and Deep House music is my inspiration for drawing and for creating a perfect artistic performance, I believe that the DJs curate the mood and this is the thing I love most about drawing in parties.

Do people ever get angry at you when the picture doesn't look like them?

Sometimes when drawing live! I faced this in bazaars and public events, as some people don’t understand caricature art and they think I’m making fun of them! But I explain that it’s not supposed to be funny and caricatures are about cartooning pictures, some of them love the idea and others not as much but I haven't faced this in parties as people tend to be in a good mood and I get a lot of appreciation and happy faces ... and this is really what I’m working on as I love seeing people smile.

Who are your favourite artists?

Actually I have been attracted to many artists but let's say the old ones mainly. I really like the art of Leonardo Di Vinci, and his famous paintings like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, but when I tried modern art like caricatures I preferred it. Portrait painting is a fantastic art but I felt that caricatures have more spirit. Mustafa Hussein is my favorite caricature artist, he has some really funny ideas.

What would be your dream place to take your art?

Well, my dream is to make it into galleries in a lot of places in Egypt and to spread my art but I also dream to take my art to Dubai. I love that city and I believe creating art there, I’d be successful. Nowadays I'm just happy spreading smiles and I'm proud. 

We've attached a picture of some of the CairoScene team, could you illustrate it for us!

Check out more of Abdou's artwork, or book him for an event on his Facebook fanpage here.